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Smarter petitions (Nov 2009)


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Overview of UK ePetitions in 2009

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Smarter petitions (Nov 2009)

  1. 1. Smarter Petitions…everywhere! Fraser Henderson 11th November 2009
  2. 2. The petition imbalance There is a long tradition of petition writing in the UK. Signing a petition is a simple way for members of the public to call for action It is the most popular civic activity in the Citizenship Survey. Research by Leicester DeMontfort University shows that petitions empower people when there is a clear relationship between the petition and decision making A 2007 Local Government Association survey found that less than a third of local authorities guarantee a response to petitions CLG research shows that even fewer councils make information available about how to petition
  3. 3. Motivation •· To express anger •· To exert power and control •· To make a difference •· To increase the status, elevation and positioning of an issue •· For publicity reasons •· For transparency •· To force a response •· To establish a collective voice or for aggregation of opinion •· To cause mischief •· Because there is an expectation (‘feel good factor’)
  4. 4. A new petitions duty (by April 2010!) The duty requires local authorities to draw up and publicise a petitions scheme which will give citizens :- •the right to a public response if they sign a local petition – both paper and electronic •the ability to trigger a full council debate on their concerns •the ability to trigger a senior office to give evidence at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee •the ability to appeal to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee if they feel the response from their council is not adequate.
  5. 5. What is a valid petition? is signed by the requisite number of people who live, work and study in the local area The appropriate number of signatures required for triggering a debate (limited to max. of 5% of the local population) Relate to a function of the authority OR (upper tier only...) relates to an improvement in the economic, social or environmental well-being of the authority’s area to which any of its partner authorities could contribute
  6. 6. Exclusions On the face of the Bill vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate petitions are excluded on the face of the Bill (Cl.14(1)(b)) petitions under other enactments (Cl.12(1)(c) By secondary legislation •any matter relating to a planning decision; •any matter relating to a licensing decision; •any matter relating to an individual or entity in respect of which that individual or entity has a right of recourse to a review or right of appeal conferred by or under any enactment;
  7. 7. Tip of the iceberg challenges Language and translation Thresholds and the certainty of validation Data protection Guaranteeing a response from partner agencies Council versus the world Politicking
  8. 8. …but also Local authorities will need to provide an ePetitions facility (2011?)
  9. 9. To support the bill •A “petition expert group” consisting of 6 Local Authorities •An I&DeA community of practice (providing peer support) •Case Studies For ePetitions •A recommended data standard for interoperability •Guidance on ePetitioning
  10. 10. ePetitioning history (UK) Scottish Parliament: 1999 – Napier University (ITC), Edinburgh Bristol & Kingston : 2004 – Local eDem National Project (via ITC & NLC) Bundestag : 2005 (ITC) No.10 downing street : 2006 - MySociety Bristol revamp & National Assembly for Wales : 2008 Europetition (EC funded) : 2009 - MAC & Public-i 2010 : New system for UK Parliament
  11. 11. ePetition Appraisal For Against Transparency and feedback Escalation in the democratic process Data collection Speed of raising and collecting Pre-petitioning phase Improves validation Catching media interest Duplicates Astroturfing “Graffiti” – time consuming Moderation? Raises expectation of a response
  12. 12. However •In the case of four parliamentary systems it was generally be concluded that the introduction of the ePetition systems failed to significantly mobilise nonparticipating or underrepresented social groups. •The typical user of the German, the Scottish and the Queensland •systems tends to be a middle-aged male with an above-average level of formal education •Local politicians tend to deal with petitions, irrespective of the submission channel •Available data gives no indication that the introduction of ePetitions in Queensland and Germany has significantly contributed to an overall increase of petitions submitted
  13. 13. Effective ePetitions ePetition design matrix Council Citizen S3.3 Committee Statutory Requirements Getting feedback Format Vetting, Rules and Regulation Progress Validity and representation Set expectations Avoiding Duplicates Actions Supporting the petitioner Integrating with offline Responsibility Back-end process Marketing Validating Connecting with supporters Evaluation Signing
  14. 14. Volumes In Bristol, 101 ePetitions since 2004 Over 40,000 signatures (Population c.400,000) In Birmingham : 9 petitions, 960 signatures (since May 2009) Since 2006, the No.10 site (to 2008) : Over 29,000 petitions have been submitted, of which over 8,500 are currently live and available for signing, over 6,000 have finished and 14,601 have been rejected outright. There have been over 5.8 million signatures, originating from over 3.9 million different email addresses. NB the set-up costs of the Downing Street site were £17,500 and the annual running costs are £109,000,
  15. 15. ePetitioning in Bristol
  16. 16. ePetitioning in Bristol
  17. 17. ePetitioning in Bristol Biggest responses • Against call for Banksy removal (3,187): Councillor • Recycling plastics petition (4,867): Councillor • In house Home Care Services (7,923): Citizen • Save cycle path from becoming bus route (10,000+): Citizen Profile of Bristol ePetitioners (2007):13% under 25, 64% aged 25-50, 19% over 50 86% White, 3% BME 4% stated they had a disability 45% male, 51% female 43% home user, 49% work 58% first time e-petitioners
  18. 18. Europetition : European Parliament European Citizens Initiative (>1m signatures) Bristol 400,000 Kingston-upon-Thames 150,000 Birmingham City 1,000,000 North Lincolnshire 150,000 Norfolk 824.000
  19. 19. 2007 = 1,506 Europetitions Environmental issues, water, etc Fundamental rights Urbanisation Education & cultural issues Social Affairs & Discrimination Internal Market & Consumers Health Justice Transport issues & Infrastructure Property & Restitution 288 226 131 103 207 192 105 99 88 72
  20. 20. Expanding possibilities Multimedia evidence of citizen and committee work (photos / videos) Videoconferencing with petitioners, SMS signatures
  21. 21. What Next? Health Authorities? Police Authorities? Other agencies? Internally – staff petition managers? National aggregator / router? Petition maps? National ‘mood’ barometer?
  22. 22.